Natural Menopause Relief with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture
The years leading up to menopause can cause significant changes in the female body. Menopause is a natural biological process that affects individuals differently. Menopause symptoms can cause secondary symptoms that affect sleep patterns, energy levels, and overall physical and emotional well-being.
What Creates Menopause?
Menopause occurs due to a decline in ovarian function, which affects the production of eggs and associated hormones that regulate menstruation. This decline in hormones causes the cessation of menstruation and the onset of menopause. Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45-55 years, but it can begin earlier in some females. Symptoms associated with menopause are varied and can include difficulty concentrating, muscle and joint pain, changes in skin texture and appearance, urinary disruptions, mood changes, decreased libido, fatigue, and the most prominent being hot flashes and night sweating that most individuals experience.
How Does Chinese Medicine Address Menopause?
Like the western medicine approach to addressing menopause, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) also aims to regulate the body’s internal thermostat. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) takes a holistic approach to address menopause symptoms. TCM aims to regulate the body’s internal thermostat to reduce symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweating and support a healthy change in hormone levels. TCM uses a combination of acupuncture, herbal formulas, and dietary/lifestyle recommendations to create a personalized treatment plan based on the individual’s needs and underlying issues that are found through TCM diagnosis.
TCM acupuncture utilizes specific point combinations to encourage the body to trigger the release of specific chemicals and hormones. This is done by stimulating the nervous system to then communicate with the spinal cord and brain. This biochemical change stimulates the body’s natural healing and regulating abilities to correct imbalances in temperature, hormone levels, and physical and emotional well-being. TCM acupuncture is a very safe and non-invasive therapy and research has suggested that of the myriad of symptoms menopause can present with, hot flashes and night sweating appear to respond quite quickly with just acupuncture.
One of the common approaches western medicine takes is hormone therapy, and though effective, hormone therapy may come with negative side effects such as breast and ovarian disorders, or individuals may have contraindications or are unwilling to use hormone therapy. Additionally, there has been an increase in awareness among both healthcare providers and patients regarding the potential adverse effects associated with hormone therapy leading to efforts to find alternatives. TCM offers a natural and safe alternative often combining acupuncture with TCM herbal formulas as an adjunct to increase the efficacy of acupuncture treatments. Herbal formulas are comprised of a balancing blend of ingredients found in nature. They often have little to no side effects, aside from allergies to a particular plant or plant part, and like homeopathy, TCM takes advantage of the therapeutic properties these plant materials offer to create formulas that address both symptoms and their underlying root causes. There is no one particular herbal formula to address symptoms of menopause as each herbal formula is unique in its ability to address underlying root causes of symptoms. After a consultation, your TCM practitioner will be able to prescribe an appropriate herbal formula to specifically address your condition.
The combination of TCM acupuncture, herbal formulas, and the addition of TCM dietary suggestions assists the body during this transition into menopause. Rather than the abrupt and drastic decline in hormones that the body is forced into during menopause, TCM takes a natural and whole-body approach to assist the body with a balanced and gradual change in hormone levels. However, regulating the body’s internal thermostat does work exactly like the thermostat on our wall, therefore patience and consistency are necessary to experience change.
TCM therapies can be used in conjunction with other forms of treatments including Western medicine, naturopathy, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage therapy, and so forth. When combining TCM acupuncture with other interventions, studies have concluded that this combination is more effective than those interventions alone. One study concluded that individuals who had acupuncture treatment experienced a significantly reduced occurrence of hot flashes and sweating in addition to improvement in other symptoms such as sleep disorders, irritability, joint pain, and depression. An integrated system that includes acupuncture with other therapeutic techniques can be of great benefit than just those therapeutic techniques alone.
- Johnson A., Roberts L., Elkins G. Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Menopause. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine. (2019). doi:10.1177/2515690X19829380
- Lund KS., Siersma V., Brodersen J., et al. Efficacy of a standardized acupuncture approach for women with bothersome menopausal symptoms: a pragmatic randomized study in primary care (the ACOM study). (2019). 9:e023637. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2018-023637
- Lian-Wei X., Man J., Roland S., et al. Hindawi Publishing Corporation Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Review Article Efficacy and Side Effects of Chinese Herbal Medicine for Menopausal Symptoms: A Critical Review. (2012). Article ID 568106, 19 pages doi:10.1155/2012/568106
- Kim KH., Kang KW., Kim DI., et al. Effects of acupuncture on hot flashes in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women-a multicenter randomized clinical trial. Menopause. (2010) Mar;17(2):269-80. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3181bfac3b. PMID: 19907348.
- Sonia B., Monica D.F., Angelamaria B., et al. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine for Hot Flashes in Menopause: A Randomized Trial. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. (2015). hAlternative.org/10.1089/acm.2012.0499
- Volker S. Traditional Chinese medicine—What are we investigating?: The case of menopause.
- Complementary Therapies in Medicine. (2007). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2005.12.002.